tv [untitled] September 11, 2013 3:00am-3:31am PDT
[gavel] >> good afternoon, welcome to the board of supervisors meeting tuesday, september 10, 2013. madam clerk, can you please call the roll? >> yes, mr. president. supervisor avalos? avalos present. supervisor breed? breed present. supervisor campos? campos absent. supervisor chiu? >> here. >> chiu present. supervisor cohen? cohen present. supervisor farrell?
farrell present. supervisor kim? kim present. supervisor mar? mar present. supervisor tang? tang present. supervisor wiener? wiener absent. supervisor yee? yee present. supervisor campos? campos present. mr. president, you have a quorum. >> thank you. ladies and gentlemen, could you please join us in the pledge of allegiance? i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands; one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all . >> madam clerk, any communications? >> i have no communications, mr. president. >> and could you read our 2:00 p.m. special order? >> the first item of business is the policy discussion between mayor edwin lee and members of the board of supervisors. this week representing the odd districts, specifically districts 1, 3, 5, 9, and 11.
the mayor may address the board initially for up to five minutes. the president will recognize the supervisor who will present their own questions to the mayor, follow-up questions are in order as long as the entire discussion does not exceed five minutes per supervisor. >> thank you, madam clerk. i want to welcome back the mayor for our september question time. if you have any opening comments, i'd like to hear them. >> thank you, president chiu. and good afternoon, members of the board of supervisors. good afternoon to our public for joining us this afternoon. i know we have quite a few questions to get through today, but i wanted to first take a moment to thank all of the first responders for their quick and coordinated work to fight the california rim fire. there were thousands of firefighters on the ground over the past few weeks battling the third largest fire in california's history and helping to protect our city's assets. and i want to offer my sincere thanks to the men and women who risk their lives to stop this fire. i also want to thank all of the staff of the san francisco
public utilities commission who took all available steps to ensure that san francisco's water and power supply continued uninterrupted despite the great threats to our facilities in the sierra. from general manager harlan kelly to all of the staff, you kept our water system safe and for that we are all very thankful. even now as we're here today at question time, the public utilities commission are upstairs getting an update on the many months and significant work ahead to restore and repair our sierra water and power facilities. san francisco is lucky to have some of the best, brightest and most prepared city employees for situations just like this. i also want to thank supervisor mark farrell for his leadership as acting mayor during the time and i want to thank you, supervisor farrell. for that, let's get started with the questions. >> thank you. why don't we hear from our first colleague, supervisor mar from district 1. >> thank you for being here, mr. mayor. as you know, san francisco has
set ambitious goals and i thank you for your strong leadership also in ambitious goals and implementing our climate change efforts in the city. in many ways, our city is making incredible strides in this direction from increasing bicycling to pursuing zero waste goals to hiring our new excellent environmental policy advisor to you, roger kim, who has a strong background in environmental justice and community engagement. however, the public utilities commission has repeatedly failed to set rates for clean power sf, the most impactful local proposal yet designed to cut and curb our carbon emissions. this program was adopted by the board of supervisors, the legislative body of the city. however, there are some allegations that your office is stalling its implementation. what specifically are you doing as the city's head executive to implement our clean power sf policy in a timely fashion? >> thank you, supervisor mar, for asking this first question
in a series of questions all on the same topic. i know that many members of the board of supervisors are upset about the san francisco public utilities commission's recent vote to reject proposed rates for the community choice aggregation. the fact that all of this month's questions focus on ccas, an indication of the level of attention that all of us are paying to this important topic. i'll do my best to answer each of your specific questions without repeating myself. let me start, supervisor mar, by addressing your comment that the san francisco public utilities commission has repeatedly failed to set rates for the community choice aggregation. the puc's primary charter mandated duties are to protect the rate payers and ensure clean drinking water for 2-1/2 million bay area customers, collect and treat wastewater and stormwater in san francisco, and deliver power for the municipal needs of the city and county of san francisco. this obligation to the rate
payers and the fulfillment of these core charter responsibilities which i know all five commissioners take very seriously is the overriding concern they have when faced with any issue. after getting lobbied very hard by advocates and members of this board to approve a program, the commissioners ultimately decided that the proposed rates for the community choice aggregation weren't a deal for san francisco. here's why i think they made that decision. as you know, supervisor, that the program they were asked to approve was very different from the variety of programs that the board of supervisors authorized over the years, including in 2007 and most recently in 2012. in september of 2012, when the board authorized our san francisco public utilities commission to enter into a contract with shell oil, the program that was in front of you included 95% renewable
energy mix on day one. this included many hundreds of megawatts of energy that's called firmed and shaped. this means truly green electrons produced by truly green power sources that make their way to san francisco to power our city. this is what a green power program should look like. through a combination of truly green power, mostly produced right here in california, san francisco's cca would have made great progress towards our city's shared environmental goals. but that's not the deal with the shell oil that the puc commission just rejected. the program that they said no to included only 25% true renewable energy. this is a serious degradation of the environmental benefits. the san francisco public utilities commission took a look at the deal that the staff had negotiated with shell and the commissioners decided that
using 75% renewable energy credits or recs did not provide the green benefits this board of supervisors had repeatedly insisted upon. recs, as you know, supervisor, are like certificates. they can be traded from one wall street speculator to another. they derive their value from commodity trading just like stocks. by the time those recs reach our community choice aggregation program, their environmental benefits are far removed. we're not even sure whether we can achieve any greenhouse gas savings from recs. we'd be dependent upon shell oil to help us reach our city's climate goals. and this certainly doesn't help reduce greenhouse gas emissions here in san francisco. this is all to say the public utilities commission did its job, protecting the rate payers when it made a fair and informed decision that the environmental benefits of cca had degraded so significantly.
supervisor, that's not defying the board of supervisors. in fact, the city attorney, dennis herrera's office [speaker not understood] that the commission is authorized, not required or compelled, but authorized to set rates for community choice aggregation. so, the public utilities commission took a look at the latest version of cca and said, this is not what the board adopted and this isn't good for the rate payers. i would submit that the commissioners exercised their oversight rule as an independent commission under the charter and i'd argue that protecting tax payers and rate payers is precisely what the commission exists to do. supervisor, you asked what my office is doing to support the city's clean energy goals and what we can do together. i think there's very great deal we can do and i'll detail that more in my answers in the next two questions. but i will say that we are leaders and signing a contract with a fossil fuel company in texas that forces san
franciscan residents to pay more for electricity that isn't generated here and doesn't produce direct local jobs or environmental benefits doesn't measure up to what our residents deserve and expect. thank you. >> i have the next question. mr. mayor, could you please outline your objections to the clean power s.f. program as approved last year on an 8 to 3 vote by the board of supervisors? >> thank you, board president chiu. i agreed with the majority of the public utilities commission when they asserted that the community choice aggregation program that was presented to them no longer had any direct immediate local environmental benefit. but the lack of a true climate change impact of this cca is not its only fatal flaw. it's also gotten progressively more expensive as time has gone on. back in 2007 the board insisted that a cca program would meet or beat pg&e's rate, meaning that cca power should cost 7.9
cents or less per kilowatt hour. the theory was that if we wanted to convince people to participate in a green energy program, we couldn't hit them with massive monthly bills or they'd likely opt out. that was good logic. but over the years the costs crept up and up and up, and last year this board authorized the puc to set rates at 12.8 cents per kilowatt hour. we ran the risk of large scale opt outs, but the logic was that the environmental benefits were so strong that san francisco would vote with their wallets and absorb the increases. set aside for the moment that there would be dangerous opt out aspects of this program, i feared that such an expensive cca would run the risk of sticking mono lingual and elderly san franciscan with soaring energy bills without fair knowledge. i made those concerns known and staff recommended reducing the rate to 10.9 cents per kilowatt hour.
this is still significantly above the original goals of cca to meet or beat existing energy rates. and in order to achieve these savings on the residential rates, staff had no choice but to make the program cheaper by degrading the quality of greenness of the energy that the cca offered. so, instead of bundled energy and firmed and shaped energy, the commission was presented a contract to buy certificates from shell. they did the right thing then and they rejected this program and these proposed rates. your question, supervisor chiu, is about my objections. well, let me answer directly. the program as it evolved year over year moved too far from the good environmental policy and fair treatment of our city's diverse electricity rate payers. let me tell you, then, and what i think good environmental policy is. i know that this is supervisor breed's question as well, examine if you permit me, i'll begin now to explain.
first, i'm very proud to welcome mr. roger kim to my staff. and with his extensive background and relationship with environmental movement in california, roger will help ensure that our environmental programs and efforts reach all of our residents, something that is a priority of mine. our environmental policy agenda should be ambitious in achieving greenhouse, gas and energy goals. and it should also deliver local jobs, improve our health, and support our local economy for the benefit of all san francisco residents, especially those in our communities that need those opportunities the most. it needs to be real and tangible and not based on vague promises of a plan that will appear sometime in the future. i believe in the city's aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. we are on track to achieve 25% reduction by 2017. in partnership with the board, we just launched the bay area bike share program with 350
bicycles in 35 stations in san francisco, and we expect to get to 500 bicycleses and 50 stations in 2014. and as you know, san francisco's 80% landfill diversion rate is the highest in any city in north america. the housing authority, working with the department of environment, to implement our recycling and composting programs saved $1.1 million on their trash bill since the end of just last year. this amount represents one-7th of the housing authority's annual shortfall. and there are even bigger savings to come as we work with the remaining housing authority buildings. that means more resources for important services and building maintenance that our public housing residents need and deserve. these are just a few examples of good environmental policy. real tangible results for our planning and for the people of our city. supervisor chiu, with your leadership and the leadership of your colleagues, i hope we can unite around policies like
these and work together. thank you. >> thank you. our next question will be read by our district 5 colleague, supervisor breed. >> thank you. thank you for being here, mr. mayor. my question is, recognizing the constraints imposed by state law, particularly with respect to opt out provisions, how would a clean power program need to be structured so that you will support it? are you willing to work with the board of supervisors and have your staff and commissioners work with the board of supervisors to revive clean power sf so that you can support it? can we come to the table and make clean power a reality without any further delay? >> thank you, supervisor breed. well, i've explained my environmental goals and i hope i have been clear about why the cca program and the commission rejected -- their rejection does not come close to meeting these goals. you propose, supervisor breed, to have a discussion about a new clean power program. in my eyes, a clean power program with cca is just one way that we can accomplish our
twin goals of environmental benefit and job creation. the short answer to your question, supervisor breed, is yes. i am of, of keyertion, willing to discuss any program that can reduce san francisco's collective greenhouse gas emissions ~. but i would also ask, then, supervisor, that you express a willingness to explore other alternative ways to create jobs for our citizens while simultaneously doing good for the environment. i am very open to exploring all avenues that might be available to expand this work. as one of my first actions as mayor, i formed the mayor's renewable energy task force composed of business leaders, energy experts, and community leaders. i continue to believe as renewable energy task force believed that increasing energy efficiency is a critical first step to reaching san francisco's renewable energy goal. by maximizing energy efficiency
and encouraging conservation, we reduced the amount of electricity generation that is needed. saving energy through energy efficiency improvements is less costly than any new energy supply whether fossil fuel based or renewable. and, so, we must continue to be aggressive in this area. the good thing about energy efficiency is that it gives the city the biggest bang for the buck. the energy cost savings exceed the price of implementing energy efficiency measures which makes good economic sense. and i know you really appreciate this, supervisor breed, because it creates good jobs for san francisco. it is good for the environment and good for our economy. with san francisco's trail blazing green building codes, lead gold certification is required for all-new commercial buildings. as a result, some of the most energy efficient new buildings in the nation are here in san francisco. to tackle energy use in
existing buildings, we have been implementing our groundbreaking commercial building energy performance ordinance. through building energy audits, we can reduce energy use in commercial buildings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help property owners develop plans to improve energy efficiency. our ordinance is already [affectedeffected]} almost 800 private sector buildings, totaling 124 million square feet and 350 municipal buildings in less than two years. with information about this building's energy use in hand, we encourage our property owners to partner in utilizing green finance sf to implement energy efficiency projects that will save them money and move us another step forward towards our greenhouse gas and renewable energy goals. i want the city to continue to be aggressive on energy efficiency and there is much more we can do. of course, we still need to
increase our incity renewable city generation and create jobs at the same time. go solar sf ~ is one part of that strategy. since 2008, go solar sf has helped install over 2000 solar installations, created 6.2 megawatts of clean renewable energy, and 107 jobs. through this program, we are dispeling the notion that solar renewable energy is just for the rich. the promise of green economy and clean renewable energy needs to be accessible to all communities. in fact, go solar sf, our low-income homeowners and workers in disadvantaged neighborhoods lead the way to a clean energy future in san francisco. as you know, i added back $2,000,000 to the go solar program making a total of $4 million available for incentives this year. we're making [speaker not understood] and creating jobs and i'm very open to exploring all other avenues that might be available to achieve this goal.
thank you, supervisor. >> thank you. >> supervisor campos will ask the next question. >> thank you, mr. president. thank you, mr. mayor. hope you had a good summer. i don't know about my colleagues, but i certainly appreciated being able to delve into one subject in-depth. i think that's a good thing. i think we can do that about other subjects. my question along the lines whatv my colleagues have asked, as you know the board of supervisors has been very supportive of clean power sf and i think that for some of us it's not -- some of the actions of the commission at times strike the commission going against the policy that the board of supervisors set when it approved clean power sf. just wondering your thoughts on that. >> well, thank you, supervisor. you know, beyond being appropriate, i think that the san francisco public utilities commission did was the best interest of the city ~ and a full fillment of their charter responsibilities to the taxpayer and the rate payers. supervisor, you asked for a
program that was 85% firmed and shaped, 10% bundled and only a paltry 5% recs. you wanted to create 31 megawatts of city-owned solar, 72 megawatts of local distributed generation, and 150 megawatt wind farm. you also wanted local jobs. the program lost those aspects in the 12 months since you voted for it in an effort to set rates. the public utilities commission took a look at the program last month and said, no, and i believe they said no because cca no longer included any firmed and shaped electricity and instead increased its dependence on paper certificates by 1500%. they looked at no investment in immediate local jobs. they looked at the program and saw zero direct investment, creating city-owned renewable assets like wind farms and
solar panels. only vague promises yet to be made rather than specific, measurable, guaranteed outcomes for local jobs and local renewable development. they looked at all these factors and the commission said no. as i said at the very beginning of this question time. the san francisco public utilities commission's primary responsibility is to protect the rate payers and in rejecting these rates with shell energy north america, they are not going against the board of supervisors. i think they were fulfilling what they believed are their sworn duties and responsibilities under the city charter. really, the critical issue here is that recs have a questionable environmental benefit. just don't take my word for it. the former general manager of the san francisco public utilities commission said last year that doing a program that is mostly recs is kind of putting lip stick on a pig in some sense.
your underlined power is still down power. you're buying renewable credits for somebody doing green power. i don't know how i can say it more clearly than that, supervisor campos. i also recall a lafco meeting. six months ago when you, supervisor, made sure to point out that a major differentiating benefit of our cca program was that it did not include recs. look, i understand that sometimes circumstances change and that the programs need to be flexible and respond to changing circumstances. but when the final product is so vastly different from the original intent, decision-makers like the public utilities commission need to exercise their oversight role. that's exactly what the commission did in this case and i'm glad they did. another part of the program that the board approved is the state law requirement that any community choice aggregation
program be opt out, which supervisor breed mentioned in her question. i believe that any public power program would need to be opt in, allowing residents to make an informed choice about their power bills. i'm committed to pursuing state legislation to allow cca to be opt in and i hope you, supervisor campos, and all the other members of the board, will partner with us to go to sacramento and demand that our residents be allowed to control their own choices. i would be eager to work with you to make this happen at the state legislature as soon as possible. but to answer your question again directly, i strongly believe that the commission did the right thing when it took a look at the program before it which hardly resembles the program authorized by this board just 12 months ago and rejected it. this is the charter mandated duty and i believe they upheld the standards set for them for protecting the rate payers. thank you, supervisor. >> thank you.
our final question will be asked by supervisor john avalos. >> thank you. welcome, mr. mayor. i'll just abbreviate my question. why does your office continue to oppose providing city rate payers with an alternative to pg&e's monopoly by implementing clean power sf? >> thank you. you know, supervisor, i think that it would be good for me to go back to when i was -- became mayor in 2011. you'll recall one of my top five priorities was implementing the landmark local hire that you championed and that i have been very proud to partner with you and work with you as a signature piece of legislation which has made a difference for our city and helped us put many of our local residents back to work. you also recently proposed and passed at the board of supervisors a strongly worded resolution urging the city and county of san francisco to divest its resources and sever
ties with fossil fuel companies. so, i do want to suggest to you that a steadfast support for a sole source contract with a large multinational fossil fuel corporation that would compel city residents to buy green certificates, not necessarily green power, including no local jobs and resulting in no guaranteed direct new local renewable energy resources is the wrong way to go. now, i know that there has been criticism for me for acknowledging a local company that employs thousands of our residents is headquartered in our city and contributes millions every year to community and neighborhood programs and organizations. but on the other hand, a willingness to enter into a long-term multi-million dollar contract with a fossil fuel company based in texas which, as far as i am aware, employs no local residents and has no history of supporting our local community and neighborhoods is the wrong direction.
i know and i respect your long-time advocacy, supervisor, for public power. and i know for many community choice aggregations less about environmental and economic benefits for our city and more about public power. and though i may disagree with you, i respect your position. i believe we should also respect the majority of the city public utilities commission when they rejected the proposed rate package last month. i think that they were fulfilling what they believe are the charter responsibilities to protect city rate payers. i know you will agree with me that these three commissioners, the great senator art torres, [speaker not understood] local 261, and commissioner ann miller cain, are each accomplished, independent, and widely respected san franciscans who have together given years and years of service to our city and our state. i continue to be grateful for
their services to our city on the public utilities commission along with commissioners moran and deter. i have been very clear in publicly stating my concerns with the community choice aggregation program for many months, including the compulsory participation, the higher electric rates, the lack of a real plan for local jobs and local renewable energy. but it's not just me. our friends and labor movement have also been vocal in their concerns. they voted back in may to formally oppose the cca program. and if you read their resolution as i did, you'll notice that their rationale for posing the latest version of the community choice aggregation is exactly the same as mine. first and foremost, they want to see a program that actually creates jobs in san francisco by creating city-owned sustainable energy sources. this could include building wind farms, installing solar
panels on municipal buildings, doing energy retrofits to existing residential or commercial buildings. supervisor, the voters are the ultimate policy makers of the city and county of san francisco and through their elected officials and legislative and executive branches of government and, of course, through the ballot measures, they express their will. nearly a dozen times san francisco voters have repeatedly rejected creating public power programs on the ballot. most recently in 2008 when proposition h was defeated by a margin of 60% of the vote, so, supervisor, you've given me a lot of credit for saying that my office is somehow single handedly blocking community choice aggregation. with those representing a lot of work being people in the labor movement as well as the voters time and time again rejected that idea as well. i know we disagree with that, but since there have been five questions all of the exact same
subject, i felt compel to explain fully to you and the people of san francisco what i think of this proposal and why i think the puc commission actively did what they did. i hope i have been able to answer thoroughly and i thank you for giving me the time to discuss this nuance points with all of you. thank you very much. >> thank you for being with us, mr. mayor. colleagues, at this time there are no items with the consent agenda. what i would like to propose is that we go to our 2:30 special commendations. we have two commendations. the first will be offered by supervisor breed. >> they're in my office. i don't think they knew that we were going to end this quickly. >> okay. if that's the case, why not go to supervisor campos. >> thank you very much, mr. president.